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Few Luxury Hotels Take the Extreme Action of Closing,
Like the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Las Vegas

Owner Deutsche Bank's Plans Unclear for 349-room Resort


By Hubble Smith, Las Vegas Review-JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News 

May 1, 2010 - Marcus and Michelle Green of New York were enjoying their stay at the Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas, sitting on a grassy hillside overlooking the lake, sipping a glass of wine on a sunny Friday afternoon.

It's a relaxed setting they prefer over the Strip.

They're among the last guests at the luxury hotel that's closing Sunday, a casualty of economic times that have made Lake Las Vegas look more like Lake Rhyolite. The resort community east of Henderson is mired in bankruptcy, its championship golf courses closed and centerpiece MonteLago Village virtually vacant.

Village Hospitality, owner of the Ritz-Carlton, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2008.

"It's a beautiful property," said Michelle Green, who was attending a conference of the National Employment Law Council at Ritz-Carlton. "The location, as far as the scenery, the landscape, it's just beautiful. It has an Italian-type flair about it."

The 349-room, $170 million Ritz-Carlton opened in February 2003, adding another piece of elegance to the 3,600-acre community with its yacht club, custom homes and 10 miles of shoreline.

"It's certainly a sad day for us because we were proud of that hotel and all the awards it won," Ritz-Carlton spokeswoman Vivian Deuschl said from Washington, D.C. "It was a triple-A, five-diamond hotel, the highest rating you can get, and at the height of the good economy, I think the whole concept of having a hotel away from the Strip worked very well. It offered the best of both worlds."

About 350 Ritz-Carlton employees will lose their jobs. Many of them have been hired by other hotels and those willing to leave Las Vegas have accepted transfers within the company, said Amy Moser-Harrison, director of sales and marketing at Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas. She could not specify how many are transferring, nor would she allow interviews of employees.

Deuschl said Ritz-Carlton employees go through extensive training and that will help them find other jobs. Hotels were hiring them from the day the closing was announced, she said.

Shannon Stone traveled from Denver to attend her friend's wedding at Lake Las Vegas and was staying at the Ritz until Sunday. Then she's going to the Strip where she wants to see some shows.

"I think it's magnificent," she said of the hotel. "It's stunning. We were just talking about it closing. We were bummed. We were walking around the grounds and it's almost like you're in a different country, that Tuscan feel. I love that it doesn't have any slot machines."

The village's Casino MonteLago closed last year. A public notice posted on the door said all outstanding chips and tickets are redeemable at Skyline Casino on Boulder Highway for 120 days from March 17.

Deuschl said she hasn't been informed of owner Deutsche Bank's plans for the hotel property.

"It was unfortunate because we loved Lake Las Vegas and so did our guests," she said. "There was quite a vision for what that community would be, but nobody could have anticipated the way the economy impacted the luxury hotel business and Las Vegas in particular."

Marcus Green said the hotel would make a perfect Marriott property or time share.

"I could see someone who wants to have a residence here and enjoy the Strip, but not be on the Strip," he said. "Most people who come to Vegas want some access to the action."

The 493-room Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort, originally built in 1999 as the Hyatt Regency Lake Las Vegas, remains in operation. Also, the South Shore Golf Club has gone from being a private course to a public course to stay afloat.

Lake Las Vegas entered bankruptcy in 2008 after Santa Barbara, Calif.-based developer Transcontinental Corp. defaulted on a $540 million loan with Credit Suisse. The resort has lost more than $60 million since filing for bankruptcy.

Pacific Capital Investments of Roseville, Calif., bought the 51,000-square-foot MonteLago Village in July 2007 for more than $23 million. The boutique village is part of Intrawest Corp.'s $500 million development at Lake Las Vegas that includes the Viera and Luna di Lusso condo-hotels, Casino MonteLago and the Ritz-Carlton.

Contact reporter Hubble Smith at hsmith@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0491.

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Copyright (c) 2010, Las Vegas Review-Journal

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